I'm leaving for SA early may, planning to travel Brazil - Argentina - Boliva - Peru, coming home late August.
Bolivia/ Peru I will be meeting up with a friend but the rest of it I shall doing alone, and starting to get a bit apprehensive. I would really like to hear stories from other women who've travelled alone in these places.
Also, I'd like advice on overland travel as don't want to take internal flights due to carbon emissions. I keep being told that is not feasible and I should take flights, but I want to do it by bus/ train!
SA has a very viable National and International system of Luxury, first and Second class buses, best always to take First Class (a few dollars or euros more) if crossing an International Border, some of the rides are 50 to 60 hours and up. Check out on Google and the other search engines...no one is going to do your homework for you..once you are in SA, say Lima or Cusco, find the First Class Terminal and go start making reservations, for example the ride to Lima to Cusco is 20 some hours. Get out and away from the Bus stations as soon after arrival as possible, bus terminals do not attract the cream of local society, use authorized taxis and get to your lodging place, where you may store your luggage, passport and valuables. If going out at night, go out with friends and don't try and walk back to hotel or house alone, especially after midnight, even if only several blocks.
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I applaud your resolve re the land travel issue, and I can reassure you that it's no problem whatsoever. Busses are plenty, cheap, fast and rather reliable. Plus you get to see some of the landscape.
Although still minimal, the safety risks in Peru and Bolivia are slightly higher than in Argentina/Brazil, so for your own peace of mind, it's good that you hook up with friends there. But you needn't worry; I met tons of solo female travellers, and none of them ever had a nasty experience. If you take the normal precautions (found in this forum in countless posts, and in the first section of every guidebook), you should be just fine.
contact me if you have further questions, happy travels,